Use the Content Marketing Ripple Effect to Your Advantage

Have you ever tossed a pebble into the water and watched the ripples expand in widening circles that spread across the surface?

That same concept is applicable to content marketing when you put in motion an integrated strategy that the support of social media and search engine marketing.

Consider the effort involved in launching a new product or service. To promote the launch, you create a variety of useful, relevant content. This may include white papers, press releases, blog posts, data sheets, webinars, videos, infographics, and more.

How you distribute that content and the ripple effect it creates will largely determine the success of your efforts. The plan for content might look something like this:

  • First, develop targeted content to support the marketing initiative.
  • Next, post content on your website and promote it through email marketing, directory listings, display advertisements, and social media.
  • Then, keyword-heavy links in your promotion channels drive your audience to your content and to your website where they can learn more about your product and you can capture visitor conversions.

That launch sequence is akin to throwing the stone in the water—it’s your initial splash.

If your content is strong, directed to your target audience, and relevant to them, the ripple effect can occur.

Here’s how it works:

When an audience interacts with your content or clicks on a keyword link, they are being directed to your website. Or when your audience likes your post on a social media, leaves a comment, or shares it with their own followers, they are helping to amplify your content and expand its reach.

An increasing number of inbound links from directories, advertisements, and social media to your content increases relevant traffic to the web pages devoted to the product or service you are launching and promoting.

While no one knows exactly how social signals such as views, likes, shares, and retweets directly influence search engine rankings, we do know social signals broaden your brand exposure, drive traffic, and increase incoming links. This activity creates a downstream positive impact on the factors that major search engines do consider, including relevant traffic, backlinks, and page popularity.

For example:

  • When your audience likes your post, re-tweets your tweet, leaves a comment, and shares your content with their own social connections, these social signals raise the profile of your content (and your company) and expand its reach.
  • As your content appears in more places and more links are generated to your website, your search engine rankings for specific pages can improve. This is true when content and links are on directories and media sites, such as GlobalSpec, as well as when the content and links appear on social media channels.

There is an additional advantage to posting links to your content on social media: While almost everyone uses search engines in their mission to find products and services, engineers are more likely to trust recommendations from people they know than they are the results of search engine keyword queries. If you’ve ever had a friend or colleague share a social media post with you and say “I love this product” or “You have to check this out,” chances are you will.

One caveat: providing a stream of strong, relevant content to your audience is not a one-and-done deal. It is an integrated and ongoing strategy of content creation, social media sharing, and searching engine marketing. You must continually provide fresh content for search engines and your audience, and not just make a single splash when you have a big announcement or launch.

That means engaging in the hard work of content marketing day after day, week after week. There are no shortcuts. But the benefits of the ripple effect are worth the effort.

Content Marketing SEM Social Media

Content Creation and Distribution: 5 Best Practices for 2020

content marketing creation and distribution

Manufacturing marketers are taking a more strategic approach with their content marketing and are gaining confidence in communicating complex content.

In addition, many are reporting success with their overall approach to content marketing, according to the research report “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” produced by the Content Marketing Institute and sponsored by GlobalSpec.

One key area covered in the report is content creation and distribution. Manufacturers were surveyed about their processes, and the results reveal a number of best practices manufacturers should adopt to help improve their content marketing efforts in 2020.

1. Create Content for Different Audiences

The more closely your content is targeted to the needs of your buyer, the more likely potential buyers will pay attention because the information is relevant to them.

On average, manufacturers create content for four different audiences, with 45 percent creating content for 2-3 audiences and 53 percent creating content for four or more audiences.

Unless all of your customers fit the same profile and have the same needs, you should be creating different types of content for different audiences. One way to define your different audience’s content needs is to create buyer personas, which are profiles of the different types of customers you have. This article can help.

2. Create Content for Different Stages of the Buying Cycle

Currently, 40 percent of manufacturing marketers create content based on specific stages of the customer journey: from awareness of need, to comparison and consideration, to purchasing decision.

Half of the content that manufacturers create is for audiences in the early stages of their buying journey. The purpose of this top-of-funnel content is to create awareness and interest. But manufacturers also need content for their customers’ consideration, evaluation and purchase stages, as well as post-sale content to drive loyalty and brand advocacy.

3. Choose a Variety of Formats for Content

Engineers have personal preferences when it comes to searching for, discovering and consuming content, which means you need a variety of content types in order to effectively connect with your audience.

The top five content formats manufacturers use are social media (such as tweets and stories), videos, email newsletters, blog posts/short articles and in-person events. The majority of manufacturers also use infographics/charts/photos/data visualization content and case studies.

4. Align Content to Marketing Goals

The Content Marketing Institute survey asked respondents which content types are the highest performing for their organization in terms of building brand awareness, securing leads, nurturing leads and converting leads.

For both securing and converting leads, in-person events was the most common response for what type of content was the highest performing. However, for building awareness, social media was the highest performing content. Manufacturers should conclude that they need some type of social media presence as part of their awareness campaigns, but should also realize that social media, while important for capturing attention, is not a primary lead generator.

For nurturing leads, email newsletters are the top performers. Most manufacturers that nurture leads set up email drip campaigns to stay in touch with prospects who are early in their buying journey and to help move them along toward a purchase decision.

5. Use the Right Channels

Manufacturers use both organic (nonpaid) and paid channels to distribute content to their target audiences.

The top organic content distribution channels that manufacturers used in the past 12 months are social media platforms, their organization’s website/blog, and email.

Of the organic social media platforms they use, respondents say that LinkedIn generates the best overall content marketing results, although Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are also widely used.

The top paid content distribution channels are social media advertising/promoted posts, search engine marketing/pay-per-click, sponsorships (booths, workshops, branding), and banner ads to promote content.

Content marketing is one of the most significant and most effective ways for manufacturers to connect with their target audiences and to generate opportunities. Download your complimentary copy of the research report “Manufacturing Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” to find out more about how manufacturers approach content marketing, including strategy, teams, budgets, and overcoming challenges. Click here for your report.

Content Marketing Digital Media Marketing, General Social Media

Social Media Dos and Don’ts for Industrial Marketers

Industrial marketers have embraced social media marketing over the past few years and the trend is likely to continue. Seventy percent of manufacturers said they increased their use of social media for content marketing purposes compared to just one year ago, according to the 2019 Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs.

Engineers and technical professionals are also embracing social media. Forty-nine percent report they have used social media to find product reviews, 43 percent have used it to keep abreast of product news and technologies, and 40 percent have used it to find expertise, according to 2019 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector: GlobalSpec.

However, for many industrial marketers, social media is a challenging territory without clear guideposts to build strategy and tactics. How much emphasis should you place on social media? What channels should be used? What content should be posted? How often should you post?

To help you better navigate social media and to become a successful social media marketer, we’ve put together this list of social media dos and don’ts.


Do: Establish and measure objectives

The underpinning of any marketing program is your objectives, and social media is no exception. Most industrial marketers use social media to increase the visibility and improve the perceptions of their brands, establish their companies and executives as thought leaders in their industries. Lead generation is secondary.

You can use a variety of measurements to track the success of your social media efforts. Views, comments, shares and downloads are popular metrics. If those numbers are trending up, you’re likely achieving your goals.

Do: Use the platforms your audience uses

It seems like every week a new social media channel appears on the scene, and it may be tempting to get on board. However, if you understand the engineering audience, you’ll know these professionals are not early adopters of the next great social media platform.

LinkedIn and Facebook have held steady as the most popular social media platforms among technical professionals, with 81 percent and 80 percent having accounts on those platforms, respectively 2019 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector. YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram also have some penetration among the engineering audience. Aside from these examples, no other social media platform appears to be highly relevant to engineers.

Do: Show the human side of your company

Social media content should be more informal and conversational than other marketing content. Use a human touch. Create an interesting voice or perspective. Tell stories, appeal to emotions. Don’t be afraid to use “We” and “Our” to demonstrate there are people behind the posts.

Show the people who work at your company by posting videos and photos. Be humorous while still being helpful with the content you share. In other words, let your hair down a little on social media—without violating any of your company policies or social media guidelines.

Do: Keep social media profiles up to date

Once you decide which social media channels to keep or invest in, make sure you completely and consistently fill out the profiles. Your brand and what you stand for should be clear. Your company description should be consistent across channels. Use important keywords in your profiles. Fill out every available field the profile offers. Outdated or missing information reflects poorly on your brand and company.

Do: Follow your customers and prospects

Not only can you gain insight and intelligence by following your customers and prospects on social media, you can engage in conversations with them. Comment on their posts. Offer occasional advice. If you follow them, chances are high that they will follow you in return. Next thing you know a relevant community is forming.

Do: Integrate social media with other marketing channels

You should integrate social with other marketing by using social icons on your website and emails, linking from social media posts to additional content on your website, sharing and repurposing content across marketing channels, and using social media to promote other marketing programs such as tradeshows and webinars.


Don’t: Heavily self-promote

Engineers can smell a sales pitch a mile away and they will stop following you on social media if all you are doing is promoting your own products and services. A good rule of thumb for posting content is the 40-40-20 rule. Forty-percent of your posts should be original, educational content; 40 percent should be curated content from other relevant and respected sources; and 20 percent can be promotional.

Don’t: Argue or engage with haters or trolls

You’re bound to receive negative comments on social media posts. Some you will want to respond to if you need to clarify a point.

However, don’t get into arguments with the individuals who are simply out there to draw blood. You won’t be able to win. You’ll end up saying things you’ll later regret. Other members of your audience will be witness and be turned off by such back-and-forth juvenile behavior. You should block or ignore commentators who are repeatedly and excessively negative.

Don’t: Let social media accounts languish

A blog that hasn’t had a new entry in over a year. The LinkedIn account that hasn’t been updated in months. These are bad looks for your company because they indicate you don’t care.

To use social media successfully, make sure that you are posting regularly to your accounts. Whether that rate is once a week or once a day depends on your objectives and resources.

Don’t: Automate everything

Many marketers are using marketing automation to create social media content in advance and schedule automatic postings. This helps save time and ensures your accounts are active.

But don’t automate everything. You still need eyes on your accounts and fingers on keyboards to post that quick, newsy announcement or to respond to customer questions. Remember to be human and socialize.

Don’t: Give up too easily

Social media is a long game that doesn’t offer immediate payback. You must stick to your goals and slowly work toward growing your presence and building your audience. If you do, eventually social media will become an integrated, effective component of your overall marketing program.

Marketing, General Social Media

Why Video and Social Media Are a Perfect Match


Video is growing in use and importance among technical professionals of all ages. Fifty-nine percent use YouTube or other video sharing websites for work-related purposes, an increase of 18 percent from two years ago, according to the “2019 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report by GlobalSpec.

One of the best ways to gain attention for your videos is through social media. Social networks favor video in their algorithms, knowing that this rich content is preferred by their users. In addition, social media allows your audience to easily share your videos with their colleagues and friends.

Video on social media is also an excellent way to connect with the millennial engineer. More millennials than older engineers use social media for work-related purposes, and they are more likely to watch how-to videos/tutorials and training videos on YouTube or other video sharing websites.

According to Forbes, millennials will make up roughly 50 percent of the workforce in the United States by 2020 and 75 percent of the global workforce by 2030. It’s a market you can’t afford to miss out on.

Check out our best advice on how to incorporate video into your social media marketing strategy.

Tips for Incorporating Video into Social Media

  • Your target audience has a clearly demonstrated interest in how-to videos/tutorials, training videos, and product demos. How-to videos are among the most popular search queries on YouTube and they offer great value to your customers.
  • Not all how-to videos have to be long and detailed. You can publish short, 30-second product-tip clips as a great customer support option.
  • Each social media platform—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and others—has its own video features. Make sure you do your research first so you can optimize your videos for the channels that you use.
  • Broadcasting live on social media is a great way to connect with your audience. Live videos are all about authenticity and real-time engagement. A live video should feel like a conversation between you and the viewer.
  • Use video to give an inside look at your company and the people that work there. This not only cultivates the human side of your company and lets customers see some faces of the people they work with, but it also can serve as a recruiting tool if you show that your company is a great place to work.
  • Use video to tease other, more traditional digital content. Much like a movie trailer promotes an upcoming film, you can create a brief video to promote an upcoming webinar, a new whitepaper, a product launch and more.
  • Just like with copy, video needs to be engaging, interesting and unique. It also has to hold the viewer’s attention from beginning to end. Unlike a page of copy, users can’t skim a video in search of what’s of interest to them. It all has to be compelling, or they’ll stop watching.
  • When working with video, think in terms of storytelling. Stories have a beginning, middle, and end. The best stories have a hero and conflict. Make sure there is a plot. Tip: make your customers the heroes of your videos.
  • Use metrics to track the success of your social media video efforts. Some key metrics include number of views, length of view, drop off point, comments and social shares.
  • If you don’t have in-house resources, consider working with media partners to develop and market videos. Their expertise can save you time and money and help ensure your videos are appropriate and relevant to your audience.

The importance of the video/social media dynamic is just one of the key takeaways from the “2019 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” report. Stay tuned to find out which social media platforms your audience prefers, discover how engineers use social media for work-related purposes and get recommendations for incorporating social media into your marketing mix.

Marketing, General Social Media Video

5 Tips for Building Your Brand on Social Media


As reported in the “2019 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” survey by GlobalSpec, social media continues to be seen as an information resource for engineers and technical professionals. While it isn’t their primary destination for researching a work-related purchase, social media serves as a channel for engineers to access news, discover information about products and technologies, and to learn about suppliers.

At this point, most manufacturers have integrated social media into their overall marketing mix, although most may not know that the most effective use of social media is for branding and awareness. Brand-building is important in the industrial market—no one wants to do business with a company they’ve never heard of or one that might evoke a negative impression.

Follow these five best practices to build and maintain a strong brand and greater awareness through social media:

1. Share Appropriate Content

Social media is ideal for demonstrating thought leadership. You can do this by sharing your company’s perspective on industry issues that are important to your customer base.

Share a combination of articles from the media, your partners’ posts, and your own original content. Whenever you share content from others, always add your own point of view—that’s what shapes your brand.

For your own posts, focus on educating your audience, not selling to them. Whether you’re offering an article, white paper, video, webinar or other content, use the opportunity to polish your reputation as a trusted information resource. One of engineers’ biggest complaints about social media is that there is too much noise and not enough substance. Don’t add to that problem.

2. Add a Human Face

What really can capture the attention of your audience is getting an inside look at what goes on at your company. We’re not talking about divulging trade secrets, but instead showing customers the people they work with, the daily activities that go on and a peek into what life is like at your company.

Show your human side. You can even have a sense of humor (as long as it’s tasteful). People are what make your brand, so this tactic is like a free brand advertisement, without actually being an ad.

3. Create a Dialog

Social media is for connecting and networking with others – rather than just throwing messages out, have a conversation. You can do this by following your customers, partners, and prospects on social media. Comment on and share their posts; it’s a great way to build equity and extend your brand across the market.

Use a social media monitoring tool to be alerted about mentions of your brand. Always reply to any comments or questions on social media that are directed at your company, even the negative ones. Be polite and professional in your responses, no matter what someone might say about you. You can also use monitoring tools to track mentions of products, competitors and anything else you consider relevant to your business.

4. Follow Your Playbook

You should have a playbook that provides guidelines to all of your employees who post about your company on social media. The purpose of this document is to clearly convey high-level social media goals; flesh out details about which channels to participate in; provide clarity on who, how and when to respond, and define success metrics for reporting and program refinement.

The playbook can also offer guidance on what your team can and cannot share or say about your company on social media. This helps create a consistent voice for your company on social media and can elevate and protect your brand image.

5. Stick with It

A social media account that is out of date or hasn’t been updated with fresh posts or content in months can tarnish your brand. If a potential customer comes across your stagnant social media presence and sees that it has been neglected, they might very well wonder what else your company neglects.

Don’t try to be everywhere on social media. Just choose those platforms that work best for you and that you can manage within your marketing portfolio. The two most popular platforms for engineers and technical professionals are LinkedIn and Facebook, so a good idea might be to focus your resources there.

Would you like to know the other ways your customers and prospects use social media, and how you can better target your audience? The answer to those questions, as well as others, will be revealed in the 2019 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector report. Stay tuned!

Marketing, General Social Media

How to Freshen Up Your Social Media Marketing


Social media has solidified its place as an established marketing channel in the industrial sector. Social media posts are the leading type of content that manufacturing marketers rely on for content marketing purposes, with a 92 percent adoption rate.

Social media is also the second leading channel and second most effective channel for distributing content, after email. LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook are the top three channels marketers say are most effective for achieving their objectives.

At the same time, many companies are stuck in the social media doldrums. Not much is happening. Engagement is low. They’re not sure what to do to freshen up their efforts and get more from social media. Here are some ideas to help you get results.

Revisit Your Strategy

You don’t use social media just because your competitors do, right? You use it to achieve specific objectives. Document those objectives and use them to make all other social media decisions. Most industrial companies use social media to expand brand awareness, educate their followers or to build a thought leadership position. You can also generate engagement opportunities, but there are more effective marketing tactics to do that.

Cut or Cultivate

When social media momentum began to pick up, many marketers created profiles on every new social media that came along. If this happened at your company, it’s time to make decisions. Cut out the channels that you don’t use or that your audience doesn’t use. Commit to cultivating a stronger presence on the ones that you do use—or want to make better use of going forward.

Optimize Your Profiles

Once you decide which social media channels to keep or invest in, make sure you completely and consistently fill out the profiles. Your brand and what you stand for should be clear and your company description should be consistent across channels. Use important keywords in your profiles. Fill out every available field the profile offers.

Find the Passion

Social media often becomes one more item on the marketer’s to-do list. Maybe it’s time to turn over your social media efforts to a colleague or even a college intern that has a real passion for social media and the skills to make the most out of your company’s social media presence. If that’s not an option, remember to take the time to put that excitement back into your social media updates. If you’re bored, your followers will be, too.

Update Your Content Approach

If you use social media simply to promote your products and services, you won’t get much traction. Instead, focus on the content that’s of interest to your audience. Most of your content should be curated—shares and reposts by influencers and thought leaders in your industry that will help keep your audience up on trends. A smaller percentage of posts should be original educational content that you create. The smallest percentage should be promotional content.

Develop a Personality

Social media content should be more informal and conversational than other marketing tactics. Use a human touch. Create an interesting voice or perspective. Tell stories, appeal to emotions. Don’t be afraid to use “We” and “Our” to demonstrate there are people behind the posts.

Follow your Customers and Prospects

Not only can you gain insight and intelligence by following your customers and prospects on social media, you can engage in conversations with them. Comment on their posts. Offer occasional advice. If you follow them, chances are high that they will follow you in return. Next thing you know a relevant community is forming.

Enlist Your Employees

A great way to expand your reach is to create pre-approved content and encourage your company’s employees to share the content on their personal social media profiles. People by nature pay more attention to what their friends post than what a company posts. Make sure you provide guidelines to employees about sharing the content and responding to any comments they might get.

Focus on Relevant Measurement

Measurement is the only way you can intelligently manage social media initiatives and make improvements to your program. It’s not that difficult, as long as you understand your goals for using social media and pay attention to the metrics that matter. These are the four metrics that matter most:

  • Reach—Followers, likes, mentions. It’s easy to measure reach, which is good for your brand. But the quality of reach is important: a mention from an industry analyst has more value than a photo that someone likes.
  • Engagement— Twitter re-tweets, Facebook wall posts or shares, blog responses, comments on LinkedIn discussions, length of video views, etc. Engagement measures the relevancy of your content.
  • Sentiment—Are you getting positive, negative or neutral reactions to your content? Sentiment measures the qualitative, emotional reaction to your content and company on social media channels.
  • Conversions— To measure conversions, your social media content must include a call to action: register for a webinar, download a white paper, watch a video, etc. Tracking social media conversions not only gives you straight numbers, it gives you data for comparison purposes across integrated programs. What resulted in more conversions: your tweet or your e-newsletter advertisement?

What other ways have you tried to reinvigorate your social media channels? Let us know!

Marketing, General Social Media

Five Marketing Myths Debunked

We’ve all heard “facts” about B2B marketing that are based on misconceptions or assumptions. You might have read or heard that something is true when in fact research data or your own analysis can prove that it’s not.

Basing your marketing decisions on myths can lead to subpar results. To help you improve your marketing effectiveness, here are five common marketing myths, debunked.

Myth #1: People don’t attend webinars on Mondays or Fridays

Research conducted by HubSpot found that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 1 or 2 pm EST are the best times to host webinars, but the best time can vary widely based on your time zone, your audience’s time zone, their schedule, and more.

ClickDimensions Marketing, after experimenting with different times to hold webinars, offers this advice: “If you can offer a variety of times, you will get a great turn out and appeal to viewers in other countries for having made the effort. If you think about the average webinar, the majority of the effort goes into promoting it and assembling the content. Thus, if you’re going to go to all the effort, why not run the live webinar a few times during the day?”

Another issue with following the midweek trend for webinars is that you face more competition for your audience’s attention. Other companies are also hosting webinars on those days. It’s worth experimenting with a Monday or Friday webinar to find out what your draw is like.

Again, testing different times and days of the week is your best approach. Every business is unique—as is your audience—and what works for one company may not for another.

Myth #2: Tuesday through Thursday mornings are the best times to send email

It’s been common knowledge throughout the industry that people tend to open their email in the mornings and that Mondays and Fridays are days to avoid sending email. But as customers are becoming more and more mobile, email opens occur at all hours, on all days, and on all devices.

According to Entrepreneur, for B2B emails aimed at entrepreneurs and workaholics, the weekend is the best time to send emails. Saturdays yield the highest open and click-through rates. For those who work regular hours and don’t check email outside of work, the most opens and clicks occur Tuesday through Thursday.

Even though the weekend was not the most popular time to send emails, those who opened were much more likely to engage with the emails they received, and click through or purchase.

Again, experiment with different sending times and days, and track results to see what works best. Perform an A/B test using only the day or time as the variable to provide some insight.

Myth #3: When it comes to content, more is always better

Though it feels like the general advice about content marketing is “create as much content as possible,” the truth is that it’s better to have targeted, relevant content than simply more of it. The Content Marketing Institute reported that although the majority (88 percent) of B2B marketers use content marketing as a strategy, the median time people spend on an article is 37 seconds. That means your 3,000-word article is skimmed for a few seconds and then dismissed.

The solution is to focus on content quality that will keep your readers engaged.  Understand your audience’s information needs and content consumption habits, and create content that fits those needs. That way, your content efforts won’t be wasted.

Myth #4: Engineers don’t make B2B purchasing decisions

Not true. The 2016 Industrial Buy Cycle survey conducted by GlobalSpec Media Solutions found that purchasing is a collaborative effort, with staff engineers and engineering managers having the majority of influence. Budget authority resides throughout the organization—not just with senior managers.

For marketers, this means you must communicate with the entire engineering team, including operations, corporate management, and purchasing. In addition to your overall marketing message, develop a strategy to communicate with each of these different personas, make a connection with them, and address their key concerns.

Myth #5: Social media results aren’t measurable

Like most things digital, social media is immensely measurable. Social media analytics and marketing automation platforms can surface meaningful numbers and benchmarks to guide your practice.

The key is to align your B2B objectives with your social metrics. Most industrial marketers use social media to increase brand awareness and distribute content. Shares, mentions, comments and likes can all provide brand awareness measurement. Clicks and download of content can demonstrate the effectiveness of content marketing. But if you’re expecting to measure new customers gained exclusively through social media outreach, you will be disappointed. Social media is only one of multiple tactics and touches that must work within an integrated plan designed to win new business.

That’s it for this edition of marketing myth busting. What other fallacies have you uncovered through your own data and analysis? Let us know!

Content Marketing E-Mail Marketing Social Media Webinars

Social Media Can Give a Boost to Content Marketing

The results of the recently-published Engineering360 Media Solutions research report “2016 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” show how your audience of engineers and technical professionals uses social media. Although social media isn’t a primary channel for this group for researching work-related purchases, social media does have its place in the engineer’s work routine—and in your marketing mix.

Engineers and technical professionals are passive users of social media, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Rather than creating, posting and sharing content on social media, or starting and participating in discussions, engineers prefer to read and watch. Their primary activities on social media are reading product reviews and industry news, researching suppliers, keeping abreast of new technologies, and watching videos. They are content consumers on social media, not content creators.

Your target audience’s preferences for consuming content should be a clear signal to you: social media channels are an effective way to promote and distribute content. Your audience’s behavior also aligns with the social media mandate: content is the nourishment that keeps your social media program alive.

Have you ever visited a company’s social media account and discovered it hasn’t been updated with fresh posts in months? No doubt you came away with a negative impression. It’s better not to have a social media presence at all than to have one you let die on the vine. On the other hand, if you keep posting fresh content to social media, your audience will consume it.

Promote Content on Social Media Channels
There are a number of ways to take advantage of social media in your content marketing efforts:

• Social media updates tend to be short and frequent. You wouldn’t post an entire white paper or press release on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Instead write a teaser and link to the full document, using social media to direct your audience to the content you are promoting.
• If a review of your product appears in the media, you should immediately be highlighting and linking to it on your social media accounts.
• Has your company scheduled an educational webinar, produced a new how-to video, or just published a new thought leadership article? This is the type of valuable content you should promote through social media.
• On video sharing sites, engineers like to watch how-to videos, tutorials and demos. Create an account on YouTube or another video sharing site and post product demos and how-to videos.

Integrate Social Media into your Marketing Plan
If social media is an integrated and essential component of your marketing plan, your marketing results should improve. More engineers and technical professionals will be exposed to your content and your brand, and you will continue to create a positive impression by keeping your social media channels active and a reliable resource for your audience to access the most up-to-date content you produce.

On the strategic level, map social media efforts to marketing and business objectives. On the tactical level, include social media links (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) on your website and in newsletters, and promote your social media presence within your established marketing programs. Finally, be sure to include social media as an integral component of your content marketing efforts.

Suppliers that have a presence on can include their social media links within their company profile pages. This helps build awareness and relevancy for their social media efforts. Suppliers can also add video content to their company profile.

Social Media

The Pros and Cons of Social Media

 As with any marketing channel, social media has its pros and cons as part of your marketing mix. Results from the recently published IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions research report: “2016 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” reveal a number of key insights that can help you better assess social media’s role in your marketing plan and the level of resources you should devote to it.

On the Plus Side
One benefit of social media is that its use in the industrial sector has stabilized over the last few years. Engineers and technical professionals have clearly demonstrated their preferences in terms of social media.

LinkedIn is the leading social media platform for this audience, followed in order by Facebook, Google+, YouTube and Twitter. These preferences are consistent across all age groups. Only seven percent use Instagram; only six percent use Pinterest.

Engineers and technical professional use social media for a variety of purposes. The top work-related activities on social media are reading content or product/industry news, researching a supplier, watching a video, searching for contacts, following a company or group, and seeking a recommendation on a product/supplier. Fifty-four percent have used social media to find product reviews; 52 percent to keep abreast of latest company/product news/technologies. The most popular use of social media overall is found among the 18-34 age group, with 67 percent using social media to find new jobs/employers.

This demonstrated behavior can help spark ideas for marketers about how to connect with this audience on social media. For example, social media is an effective channel for posting news, product information, videos or other content, such as white papers or Q&As. In order to elevate your company’s profile and attract a new generation of engineers, you might want to post employment opportunities on LinkedIn or other social media sites.

On the Downside
While there is plenty of opportunity for marketers to take advantage of social media in their marketing mix, you may want to proceed with prudence. With the variety of activities performed on social media among engineers and technical professionals, this audience spends only a small percentage of their time on these platforms.

Sixty-two percent spend less than one hour of work time per week on social media. None of the activities they perform on social media take place more than a few times a month. LinkedIn is the only social media platform that a majority (65 percent) of engineers and technical professionals maintain an account on. All others have a less than 50 percent adoption rate.

The fact is that engineers and technical professionals experience a number of challenges using social media for work-related purposes. Sixty-four percent say that using search engines, supplier websites, online catalogs and other methods are more efficient than social media. Fifty-five percent say there is too much noise and not enough substance on social media. Thirty-eight percent say they can’t find useful content or that social media isn’t reliable. This audience still vastly prefers general search engines, online catalogs and supplier websites for researching a potential work-related purchase.

Another issue is that it’s difficult to actively engage your audience of engineers and technical professionals on social media—and in many ways social media is all about engagement and interactivity. Of those who have a LinkedIn account and belong to a group, only 27 percent participate in discussions; only six percent start a discussion. Activities such as posting or sharing an article, image or video on a social media platform take place at most a few times per year. Seventy percent never post or share any news or information about their own company on their social media accounts.

The conclusion to draw is that because social media is established in the industrial sector, you should develop a social media strategy and integrate social media into your overall marketing plan. However, keep in mind that other digital channels—online catalogs, your website, search engines, email, webinars—should get the bulk of your marketing investments, and that social media should be used primarily as a complement to your efforts on those channels.

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The State of Social Media in 2016

 July is social media month at the Marketing Maven. We’ll be publishing a series of posts about the role and impact that social media plays in the industrial sector, how engineers and technical professionals use social media for work-related purposes, and how marketers can effectively incorporate social media into their marketing strategy.

Along the way, we’ll regularly reference results from the new IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions research report: “2016 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector.” You can download your complimentary copy here.

The Seas Have Settled
Not that long ago social media was on the cutting edge and was considered a disruptive digital channel. Marketers scurried to understand and use social media. Some dove in and tried every new platform that came along. Others stayed back, hesitant to get their feet wet. Smart marketers maintained their strategic perspective—they tested the waters, measured the wind, and charted an effective, goal-based course through the turbulent social media sea.

Today, the seas have calmed. Over the past seven years, the use of social media has grown, stabilized, and now has become business-as-usual in the industrial sector. Social media has found its position as an information resource for engineers and technical professionals. For example:

• Sixty-five percent maintain an account on LinkedIn, the most popular social media platform among this industrial audience.
• Fifty-two percent use social media to keep abreast of the latest company/product news/technologies.
• Eighty-six percent of those who use video sharing websites such as YouTube watch how-to videos/tutorials; 85 percent view product demos
• A greater percentage of engineers and technical professionals in the 18-34 year-old age range maintain accounts on nearly all platforms—Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube—as compared to their 35+ counterparts

Yet for all this social media activity, its impact in the engineering workplace is not overly significant. Social media is part of the media mix, for sure, but 82 percent of engineers and technical professionals spend no more than two hours per week on social media for work-related purposes, with no major difference between the various age groups. Very few engineers contribute to social media in terms of creating and posting content. Seventy percent never do. This is an audience of passive social media users, who prefer to read and watch.

Other Channels Take Precedence
Engineers and technical professionals consistently report that for work-related purposes they find other digital channels more efficient than social media. The top four valuable resources for engineers and technical professionals researching a work-related purchase have remained the same year over year, with general search engines, online catalogs, word of mouth and supplier websites topping the list. Among social media platforms, Google+ and LinkedIn ranked highest for researching a work purchase. Facebook, SlideShare and Twitter have the least value.

Does this mean that social media is overhyped and a waste of the industrial marketer’s time? Not at all. But it does mean that engineers and technical professionals have clear preferences, and that you should view social media as a supplemental channel to the more established and proven digital channels in your marketing mix.

The way to approach social media marketing is no different than other marketing. You must first define your strategy and goals for using social media. Goals may include increased brand awareness, recognized thought leadership, or community engagement and expansion. It’s important to realize that social media is not a primary driver of leads and sales. Again, think of it as complementing other marketing strategies, such as a vehicle for distributing content.

With goals established you can develop a plan to achieve them. And although social media accounts are free—open a new one, anytime, anywhere—they take time and resources to grow, or even to maintain. Consider what level of resources you should devote to social media and what metrics you should track to determine your success. The takeaway is to use social media, but not at the expense of your other digital marketing channels.

Social Media